We are a family of 5, (edited to add: 3 girls ages 9, 12, and 14) and I’m finding out that home owners are looking for singles or couples or smaller families. Not sure how we will be able to find anywhere to sit to start out. We do not have references because we are just beginning. We have over 40 positive reviews on Airbnb, and we have 3 cats of our own. Other than that, we have not house sat before.
We are limited on the time of year, which is probably not helpful. Since we are teachers, we only have off during school holidays and the summer.
Hello @RinaS and a warm welcome to you and your family, to both Trustedhousesitters and our community forum. I can feel your frustration and hope that we can do something to help reinstate your confidence about finding house sits as a family.
Firstly, I’ve added your profile into your forum preferences as this will give you more exposure and allow other experienced members to give you some helpful feedback. We have many families who successfully house sit all over the world, and I will add some links here on this thread to give you some inspiration.
I’m also going to tag @Debbie who very successfully sits with her two children in the UK as she may be able to share some wisdom, tips and advice to help you.
Family sitting is a great way for kids to see the world and learn about taking care of animals, and I’m sure with some collective forum help we will get you started.
Hi @RinaS you’ve already had some wonderful advice and I’m going to add to that by including a link to a TrustedHousesitters family of sitters who have been successfully sitting around the world and now back in the USA since 2019 (and even before)
Jessica & William with their three children at the start of their adventure …
Hi @RinaS and welcome to you and your family. Here are a few points you might want to consider:
Profile details - I think you should add more detail to your profile. Perhaps take a look at those of other sitters, especially family ones. Also take a look at this blog post that includes information on creating your profile.
External references - These are important, until you can get your first review. I would work on getting a few.
Intro wording - By starting with just ‘Rina & John’ you appear to be a couple, rather than a family. Perhaps consider changing that.
Photos - if you could add some that include animals, it would be more engaging.
Your pets - add detail as to whether you expect to bring your pets with you as this will be important to pet owners.
Calendar - currently it looks like you haven’t set yours up. Not essential maybe, but everything helps. You may find this post on sitter calendar availability helpful.
I always preferred to have a couple, (or 2 people travelling together) for sits, but the last sitter we had was a single lady and the next sitters we have booked are a family with 3 children about the same ages as yours, so I would consider a family with older children. I would be less likely to entertain a family with young children as our home is not geared up for young children and I would be worried about their safety. We also only have two double beds available so sitters would have to work out the logistics of that with regard to their own family. Hopefully you will be able to find some sits to suit you
As a sitter whose part of a couple i think most ho’s mainly have just one spare room which makes a single/couple option most favourable.
I do see some larger properties where ho’s state if theyve got more than the one room available. Personally i then tend to leave these sits as i think they would work better for families who do have less options.
It may mean abit more reading through the ho’s info. Also as a family you may find farm stays more a good option.
I think it there probably is slightly less choice but i also think the school holiday time could work better.
Thanks. I changed the intro wording and also changed my profile photo to a family photo.
I’m not sure to add photos of my kids with animals. The only places I can see to add photos is for my home or my pets. I do have a few pictures of them with our pets, but I also have a lot of them with other animals on our travels. I’d like to post those, but I’m not sure where.
I will have to look for the calendar option. Thanks you.
@RinaS you have some great feedback and help from our community members, one point about references, adults tend to focus on themselves whereas the children are characters too with parents who are obviously going to say how wonderful they are.
With that in mind what if someone outside of the family says what great they are. A coach, a teacher, a neighbor and you added that to your profile copy, you can add in the body of text with a "full contact details for referees available on request.
Just another tried and true way of helping members the very best impression to owners and vice versa.
Hi @meow at one time sitter could upload intro videos, as you say it can be very beneficial in some situations and all member feedback and suggestions are looked at by the team, this one is no different.
What a good idea - videos with the children interacting with animals. We were happy to have a family until we have a potential sitter and child come for a visit. Unfortunately the child was nervous and kicked out and stamped at our dogs so this has put me off having children because I would worry that the dogs may snap at a child if they carried on with that behaviour. I was glad we were able to meet the people first.
Videos could help. I didn’t think about this before, but I have been a teacher for 14 years, and I would not want the majority of children in my home or sitting my pets. I could see how HO are put off by children. Luckily, my children are very responsible and well behaved. All of their teachers have nothing but good things to say about them. Now getting home owners to see that is the difference. Just seeing kids on a listing probably scares many off.
Hi @RinaS we are a housesitting family of 4 - my sons are 13 and 11. Like your daughters, they are the perfect age to be helpful in caring for the pets. We also sit in our school holidays.
You can have a look at our profile by clicking on my name. Most of our photos are of the boys with animals (I do need to update some of the photos to make it clear they are not so little any more!). We even have some photos of the boys cleaning the chicken house at the school where I work. I’d definitely recommend having some photos of your girls with animals.
It is often difficult to tell from listings if the home has enough beds for a family. As @BunnyCat said, look for listings that mention they have children, especially if they have 3 or more. Most, but not all, of our sits have been for families like ourselves. We often find we have much in common. I talk about all of our interests and hobbies in our applications, and I think this helps homeowners identify with us, for example if we or our children have similar hobbies.
Many hands means we can look after multiple pets. We have looked after 4 (mostly small) dogs at once, and the boys and I cared for 3 dogs and 3 cats at another sit (my husband was unable to join us as he had to work). I note that you are most comfortable caring for cats and small pets, like you have at home. That’s a really good idea for a first sit while you get used to how everything works. Once you feel more confident in the system, would you consider caring for dogs? This would increase the number of suitable sits available to you and having more pairs of hands could then be a real advantage. We are also able to split up if the animals have different needs. The boys and I might walk a younger, livelier dog while my husband stays at home with an older one who needs less exercise.
In normal times, the advice for new sitters is often to start with local sits. However, at the moment in some parts of the world, there are more homeowners in need of sitters than there are available sitter. In the UK for example. there are many sits with few applicants, so you might be successful applying for a sit in the UK, especially as your available dates overlap UK school holidays.
Keep persevering! It took us quite a few tries before we got our first sit, and we were really grateful to the family who gave us the opportunity. Good luck!
I have to honest with you it’s going to be tough. I have talked with lots of pet owners here in the States and abroad about their preferences over the years. Most pet owners I have found are looking not only for only a couple or single person, but also someone with references through THS’s. That is why on occasion you will see a listing, where someone Will say suitable for families. We have pet sat a couple of times with my mature Sister in Law and she also has fantastic references. On occasion we have had luck, when asking if she can join us. Not to discourage you so just keep trying and do some local house sits through Trusted and that will help. There is lots more competition now than we started.
Thank you, Debbie. I have added some photos of my girls and animals. The reason I put cats and small pets was because I read some tips to limit to animals you have experience with for your first few sits. We are comfortable with dogs, but I don’t have as much experience with them since I haven’t had a dog since I was 11.